Congresswoman Martha McSally

Representing the 2nd District of Arizona

U.S. Representative Martha McSally & Senators McCain, Flake Call on Government Agencies to Resolve Sewage Spill in Naco, Arizona

September 21, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Representative Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) today sent letters to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and International Boundary Water Commission (IBWC) calling on the agencies to address the unmitigated raw sewage flowing from Naco, Sonora, Mexico, which has been plaguing the cities of Naco, Arizona and Bisbee, Arizona for years.

“This week I toured the sewage spill at the border in Naco and saw first-hand sewage flowing north from Mexico onto my constituents’ private lands and pooling dangerously close to drinking water sources,” said Representative McSally. “It is simply unacceptable, and it must be stopped. I stand with Senator McCain and Senator Flake to call on the EPA and the IBWC to do their jobs and intervene. Sewage is flowing faster than the bureaucracies are responding. They need to speed up their solution.”

Sewage overflows and broken collection mains in Mexico have caused untreated wastewater to flow north under the U.S. border fence and into Greenbush Draw in Rep. McSally’s district, near municipal water sources. Sewage has been pooling 300 yards from wells maintained by the Arizona Water Company, which provides drinking water to Bisbee.


Rep. McSally Tours Sewage Spill in Naco, AZ

“This flow of sewage poses a health, safety, and economic risk to Arizona’s vulnerable border towns, and we are greatly concerned about the lack of response of the federal agencies tasked with the oversight of this issue,” write Representative McSally and Senators McCain and Flake. “Between the flooded farms of Naco, Arizona and the broken pipeline in Nogales, Arizona, it is clear to us that coordination and communication between federal organizations and the communities they serve must be improved.”

In the respective letters to the EPA and IBWC, McSally, McCain, and Flake requested information on what measures each agency plans to take to monitor spills, respond to immediate issues, and mitigate future impact.

Click HERE to read their letter to the EPA and HERE to read their letter to the IBWC. The full text of both letters is below.

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Letter to EPA Acting Regional Administrator Alexis Strauss:

Dear Acting Regional Administrator Strauss, 

We write to address reports that the cities of Naco, Arizona and Bisbee, Arizona have been subject to years of unmitigated raw sewage flowing from Naco, Sonora, Mexico, an issue that is yet to be resolved. This flow of sewage poses a health, safety, and economic risk to Arizona’s vulnerable border towns, and we are greatly concerned about the lack of response of the federal agencies tasked with the oversight of this issue.

We believe that this uncontrolled effluent is positioned to contaminate the agriculture, livestock, and drinking water supply of these communities. We seek more information about the situation in question and what the EPA has done to address the environmental impact of this spill. Please answer the following questions:

  1.        What responsibility does the EPA have in the monitoring and mitigation of such spills?
  2.        How long has the EPA been aware of the effluent spill in Naco, Arizona and Bisbee, Arizona? What steps have been taken by the EPA to resolve this issue in the many years that the spill has breached Arizona’s borders?
  3.        What steps has the EPA been taken to assist the community in their rehabilitation of the impacted areas?
  4.        Has the EPA worked with other relevant agencies or conducted internal investigations to study the public health, safety, and economic implications of this spill?

Arizona’s border communities are uniquely situated to rely on organizations, like yours, to coordinate even their most essential functions, such as sanitation or flood mitigation. The economic impact of slow-moving bureaucracy can not only be damaging, but devastating, to our constituents. Between the flooded farms of Naco, Arizona and the broken pipeline in Nogales, Arizona, it is clear to us that coordination and communication between federal organizations and the communities they serve must be improved. We look forward to reviewing your answers and working towards a solution for all parties involved.

Sincerely,

 

John McCain

United States Senator

 

Jeff Flake

United States Senator

 

Martha McSally

United States Representative

 

 

Letter to IBWC Commissioner Ed Drusina:

 

Dear Commissioner Drusina,

We write to address reports that the cities of Naco, Arizona and Bisbee, Arizona have been subject to years of unmitigated raw sewage flowing from Naco, Sonora, Mexico, an issue that is yet to be resolved. This flow of sewage poses a health, safety, and economic risk to Arizona’s vulnerable border towns, and we are greatly concerned about the lack of response of the federal agencies tasked with the oversight of this issue.

Given the International Boundary and Water Commission’s (IBWC) responsibility to monitor and coordinate such international projects, we seek more information about the Commission’s history with this issue and what responsibility they hold for this incident. Please answer the following questions:

1.      What mandate does the IBWC have in the management of sewage lines like the one that is currently overflowing into Arizona communities?

2.      How long has the IBWC been aware of this spill?

3.      With what frequency does the IBWC monitor the status and maintenance of this sewage line, and have measures been taken in the past to prevent such spills?

4.      What steps have been taken to assist the community in their rehabilitation of the impacted areas?

5.      Has the IBWC worked with other relevant agencies or conducted internal investigations to study the public health, safety, and economic implications of this spill?

6.      What measures can the IBWC take in the immediate future to mitigate impact on these communities, and what must be done to ensure that this does not happen in the future?

Arizona’s border communities are uniquely situated to rely on international organizations, like yours, to coordinate even their most essential functions, such as sanitation or flood mitigation. The economic impact of slow-moving bureaucracy can not only be damaging, but devastating, to our constituents. Between the flooded farms of Naco, Arizona and the broken pipeline in Nogales, Arizona, it is clear to us that coordination and communication between the IBWC and the communities it serves must be improved. We look forward to reviewing your answers and working towards a solution for all parties involved.

Sincerely,

 

John McCain

United States Senator

 

Jeff Flake

United States Senator

 

Martha McSally

United States Representative